Startup PacketHop this week will introduce its first commercial product, designed for customers that need to deploy wireless mesh networks on the fly.
The PacketHop Communication System enables the formation of an instant wireless network among Wi-Fi devices without the need for a centralized server or access points, said officials at the Redwood City, Calif., company. It will be generally available next month.
Mesh networking is gradually gaining ground in the wireless industry. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) is working on a wireless mesh networking protocol, designated 802.11s.
And several startups, as well as large companies such as Motorola Inc., sell mesh systems—although most require at least one access point.
While there are some corporate mesh deployments in hard-to-wire buildings, the majority are appearing in municipal trials and, increasingly, automobile racetracks.
"Mesh networks will evolve over time and not just suddenly appear," said Fran Rabuck, president of Rabuck Associates, in Philadelphia, and an eWEEK Corporate Partner. "We need to better understand the use in real-world environments first."
PacketHop Inc. is targeting the public safety industry to give government officials an alternative way to communicate when conventional wireless networks are clogged during an emergency.
The company completed successful trials on the Golden Gate Bridge among several government agencies in San Francisco last year.
The PacketHop Communication System includes the companys TrueMesh mesh networking software as well as the PacketHop Aware for Public Safety application.
The latter includes support for instant messaging, resource tracking, an embedded whiteboard and multicast video. This lets first responders transmit live feeds to all users on the network.
The software is available only for devices that support Microsoft Corp.s Windows XP (and Wi-Fi). Support for smaller devices that run on Windows Mobile will be available next year, officials said.